Yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, sleep, and posture and reduces stress, aches, and pains. Furthermore, yoga also helps maintain health and wellness. It is said that prenatal yoga may also help you get through labor and manage labor pains.
However, if you plan to include first trimester yoga, it is advisable to check with your health practitioner about its safety. Although it is beneficial and keeps you healthy throughout the pregnancy, there might be some reasons that your doctor can only assess if it is safe for you (1) (2).
If you are currently pregnant and are a fitness freak, read the post about the safe and unsafe poses, benefits, and precautions of first trimester yoga.
Best Yoga Poses For The First Trimester
Some yoga poses you may try during your first trimester are (1):
1. Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Half and full butterfly poses could help loosen your hip joint and boost circulation to the pelvic floor. They stretch the muscles in the inner thigh and the legs, thereby relieving tension and tiredness in this region. Butterfly pose is a hip opener exercise.
- Sit on the floor and stretch your legs in front of you.
- Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together.
- Keep your heels as close to the body as possible and relax your thighs.
- Now, hold your feet with both hands and gently bounce your knees up and down.
- Use your elbows as a lever to press your legs down.
- Repeat this 20-30 times.
- When you get tired, or your legs begin to cramp, straighten your legs and relax.
2. Marjariasana (Cat pose)
The cat pose is an effective asana, during pregnancy or otherwise. You can practice it during the first two trimesters (3).
- Kneel on your palms and knees and keep your palms at a shoulder-width apart, right below your shoulders.
- Keep your knees apart below your hips.
- Inhale while raising your head and arch your spine towards the floor gently.
- While exhaling, bring your chin towards your chest and gently arch your spine upwards.
- Repeat this for five to ten minutes.
- Keep your moves gentle.
- Do not excessively strain yourself.
3. Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
Here’s another easy-to-perform yoga asana in the first trimester. The seated forward bend is known to boost digestion, provide relaxation and allow you to focus internally.
- Sit down with your legs extended in front of you.
- Bend your knees slightly and extend your arms over your head. Keep your spine erect.
- Slowly bend forwards and place your hands on your legs, feet, or the floor (as per your comfort).
- Hold this position for up to one minute.
- You can use cushions to support your chest, forehead, or knees if required.
- Sitting at the edge of a cushion or a folded blanket could help.
4. Tadasana (Palm Tree Pose)
This pose helps you work on your posture and improve your sense of alignment and balance. The tree pose is also known to strengthen your back, core, and legs.
- Stand with your legs close to each other and slowly shift your weight onto your left foot while lifting your right foot.
- Place the right foot on the side of your ankle, lower leg, or thigh (based on your comfort)
- Now, raise your arms over your head and push your palms together.
- Focus on a fixed point straight ahead and hold this pose for around one minute.
- Repeat the same on the opposite side.
- You can do this pose next to a wall, table, or chair for additional support.
- Do not press the raised foot on the knee of the other leg.
- You can elevate this pose to the next level by closing your eyes.
5. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
This yoga asana is useful throughout pregnancy. It helps improve blood circulation and relieves aches and pain in your back, legs, and whole body.
- Stand with your feet apart.
- Breathe in and bring your arms parallel to the floor.
- Now, breathe out and bend on your right side to bring the right hand closer to the right foot.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Breathing in, now slowly come up and relax.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Spread your feet apart as much as you are comfortable with.
6. Konasana (Restrained Angle Pose)
This pose involves gently stretching along the sides and spine, offering potential relief from back pain. Some individuals find it helpful for discomfort related to constipation and sciatica while enhancing spinal flexibility (4).
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides.
- Inhale as you lift your left arm and extend your fingers towards the ceiling.
- Exhale while bending to the right from the spine. Shift your pelvis to the left while keeping your left arm elevated for a deeper stretch.
- Turn your head to look at your left palm and straighten your elbows.
- Inhale and return to an upright position.
- Exhale and lower your left arm.
- Repeat the process with the right arm for a balanced stretch.
- Be comfortable and seek wall support to avoid losing your balance.
- Extend your spine to a comfortable extent.
Yoga Poses to Avoid In The First Trimester
While some poses are great for your first trimester, here are a few poses that you should steer clear of:
- Hot yoga (5)
- Intense forward and backward bends
- Asanas that put excessive pressure on your belly
Safety Measures To Take While Practicing First Trimester Yoga
Here are some tips that could be useful while performing yoga in pregnancy:
- Learn from a qualified teacher: If you are new to yoga, take classes from a qualified teacher only. Not only is it safe, but a qualified yoga teacher understands the right asanas for you.
- Listen to your body’s cues: Even before your baby bump begins to show, you will begin to feel different inside. These changes develop in your first trimester and continue even after giving birth. Yoga can help you understand your body and its needs better.
Sarah Bregel, a mother, writer, and yoga teacher, had a difficult pregnancy with severe symptoms of nausea and vomiting for the first 16 weeks. She listened to her body and did only as much yoga as she could. She shares, “In the first trimester and the beginning part of the second, the only yoga I was doing was deep breathing. I would tell myself, ‘Okay, I’m going to practice.’ Then I would lie down (okay, I was usually already down), and I would focus on my breath (and trying not to throw up). I sometimes worked on my shoulders, stretching my legs or releasing my hips, but that was about it. That was my practice. Deep breaths and a wee bit of stretching (i).”
- Continue practicing yoga throughout your pregnancy: Yoga has innumerable benefits for a healthy and safe pregnancy and prepares your body for childbirth. If you have been doing yoga before your pregnancy or have started practicing in your first trimester, it is recommended that you continue doing it.
- Be gentle and begin slow: In the initial stages of your first trimester, the fetus is still trying to get a good hold of itself in your uterus. Also, the risk of miscarriage is the highest during this trimester. Therefore, you should be gentle with your yoga practice and if you are new, start it slow. The goal of yoga during all trimesters is to build strength and stay active while being as flexible as possible.
- Adjust your poses to accommodate your growing belly: You should perform yoga asanas that accommodate your growing belly during your pregnancy. Avoid twists, turns, and inversions as they can compress your uterus and overstretch your abdominal muscles (1).
- Include meditation and mindfulness: Along with yoga asanas, meditation and mindfulness give a good amount of time. Begin and end your yoga routine with a few breathing exercises.
- Take it easy from time to time: The first trimester is usually difficult with nausea, morning sickness, and fatigue. While you may be tempted to stay active with yoga, it is best to begin slow and give yourself a break from time to time.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can yoga cause a miscarriage?
Yoga is recommended during all three trimesters of pregnancy. It is normal for women to fear miscarriage, especially those with a history of the same. However, know that most yoga poses are safe during pregnancy as long as your balance is stable (6). Also, there is no solid evidence to suggest that exercise, including yoga, can cause miscarriage (7).
Though one-third of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, they are not related to a mother’s activities or exercises (6).
2. Which week should I start prenatal yoga?
There are several benefits of yoga during pregnancy and after delivery. If you have been doing yoga before getting pregnant, you can consult with your obstetrician-gynecologist about starting yoga (3).
3. Can I do Surya Namaskar during the first trimester?
Yes, you may practice Surya Namaskar with support and proper precautions until the start of the 12th week of pregnancy (8). However, if you experience any discomfort, you should stop doing it. In addition, if you have any health conditions or your pregnancy is at risk, it is better to talk to your doctor before performing any asana.
4. Is downward dog safe during the first trimester?
Yes, downward dog is one of the safe grounding poses that can help you feel safe during the first trimester (9). But respect your body limits and do not perform if you are uncomfortable with it.
Trying some of these safe first-trimester yoga poses may significantly benefit your mental and physical health during pregnancy. Even if you are a beginner or have just started practicing yoga, continue doing it to stay active and achieve a healthy pregnancy. Yoga may help you manage your pregnancy symptoms through all the trimesters. It may also help prepare your body for labor and childbirth. However, practice yoga under the guidance of a prenatal yoga instructor to ensure your safety. Further, ensure you begin slowly with easy yoga poses.
Infographic: Precautions To Take When Doing Yoga During The First Trimester
Yoga can be the best way to keep yourself physically active and rejuvenate your soul and mind during pregnancy. However, since the first trimester of pregnancy carries a higher risk of miscarriage, you need to be more careful when doing different yoga poses. Check out the infographic below to learn about these precautionary measures.
- The butterfly pose, tadasana, trikonasana, and marjariasana are some yoga poses pregnant women can practice in the first trimester.
- Some yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy are hot yoga, inversions, and intense forward and backward bends.
- Learning yoga poses from a qualified teacher, paying attention to body cues, and being gentle and slow are some crucial safety measures to follow.
Embark on your holistic prenatal yoga journey with help and tips from a registered and professional yoga teacher in this video.
Personal Experience: Source
- Pregnancy Poses: Poses for the First Trimester.
- Systematic Review of Yoga for Pregnant Women: Current Status and Future Directions; Yoga as a Therapeutic Intervention (2012).
- Yoga in Pregnancy: Many poses are safer than once thought.
- Konasana (The Restrained Angle Pose).
- Hot yoga and pregnancy.
- 3 Exercises to avoid during pregnancy and 7 that are safer.
- Does exercise cause miscarriage?
- Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha.
- Myths About Epilepsy and Pregnancy.